Author Archives: Tamara Woods

About Tamara Woods

Tamara Woods is a writer, would-be philanthropist, an internal librarian, concert-goer, a lover of cats and all things orange. She was born in West Virginia, and started writing poetry when she was 12. She then moved onto short stories, studying journalism at West Virginia University and writing for newspapers and blogs. She has moved from the Appalachians to the tropics, where she is working full-time as a freelance writer. Her topics of interest include writing, race, class and nerdy pop culture. She blogs for several online sites and is currently working on her first collection of poetry, The Shaping of an "Angry" Black Woman due out in Spring 2014.

B is for Basics | #AtoZChallenge

Aloha everyone! We’re at it again.

Let’s continue with the AtoZ Challenge. Yesterday was your invitation to join this journey. So let’s truly begin. Today’s I’m talking about editing basics. Some of you are like me and are working on your editing skills. Trying to beat your tame the crazy beast of a first draft. I’m not a huge fan of editing, but I’m trying to cultivate an appreciation for it. Unedited pieces aren’t as fun for the reader. Mistakes are distracting and take away from your story. Editing can be a hard activity to pin down. The first way to begin this revisioning journey is to get down to basics. Here are some tips that I’m using for my manuscript that I hope you’ll find helpful.

back to basics

Tip 1: Step Back

Set your story aside. Depending on how much time you have available it may be a few months or a few hours. Give yourself that break so you can see it with “fresh” eyes.


Tip 2: Read all about it

Read it all in one go without any real editing.  If you print out your manuscript, make notes in the margins and circle things that don’t appear to make sense. If you’re looking at it on a screen, make notes in your manuscript using a different font color and size so when you’re going back over it, you’ll know this was a problem area. If at all possible, try reading it out loud or using a program like Natural Reader to read it for you. Is there a word or phrase that you use often that doesn’t advance your story that is kind of a crutch for you? (See what I did there?)  Are there things you’ve repeated? Have you said some things the same way? Do you accidentally duplicate the same info? (You get it.)   After you’ve read it once through while taking your marginal notes, get ready to dive into the bigger aspects of the edits.

Tip 3: Plot it out

Does your story have a beginning, middle, and an end? Is there an inciting incident that’s kick starting your main character’s actions? Is there conflict? A resolution? These are building blocks for a successful story. If you’re missing these aspects of a story, you may want to reconsider your story. Your readers may not know what the elements are called, but they’ll realize something is missing.


Tip 4: Yaaaaawn…

Are there points in the story that drag along and feel kind of boring? If it’s boring to you, it will bore the reader. Do you need those bits? If so, how can you make it more interesting? Are you doing a lot more telling than showing? Are you going overboard with your description? Is the dialog Punch up the interest level.


Tip 5: Make sentences more gooder

Time to edit for grammar and punctuation. Check out your sentence structure. Is everything written in passive voice? Do you find there’s a word that you use often that doesn’t help things? Grammar Girl is a great site with tons of tips and tricks to help you improve your grammar. I have a copy of The Elements of Style on my desk as well, because sometimes I can’t trust myself with the internet.

You’ll want to take a bit of a break and read it again. At some point, you’ll have to decide when you want beta readers to have a go at it, editors, proofreaders, etc. But those are all conversations for another time.  For now, I wanted to give you a few tips to get you going. Just the basics. Let me know down in the comments, what are some editing tips that you’d like to share? Thanks for reading and I’ll see you tomorrow with the letter C.


Aloha Y’all!



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All Aboard! : #AtoZChallenge

This year I’m attempting the A to Z Challenge again. I’ve tried it before with varying levels of success. This time around, I’m also doing with this with #StoryDam a Twitter chat that discusses writing on Thursdays at 8 p.m. EDT.  This month I’ll be talking about writing, maybe doing a flash fiction or two, and possibly poetry. The Challenge is a simple one- write on a theme that starts with a corresponding letter of the alphabet for that day.

All Aboard

Today is the first day, so we’re starting with “A” : All Aboard! This is going to be just a short announcement post. I’m also doing Camp NaNoWriMo again this year. Camp NaNo is a challenge for the months of April and July where you set your writing goals and work hard to achieve them. In April I’ll be editing Blood Rose and Honeysuckles. I’ll also be starting a rough draft for a cozy mystery idea that I have floating around in my mind. There will definitely be some crossover in my update posts and my A to Z Challenge posts. All Aboard this journey of writing madness! I have a lot going on, but it’s definitely going to be worth in the end.

Are you participating in the A to Z Challenge as well? Doing Camp NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments!


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Write a Story With Me!

Hey everyone, it’s been ages since I’ve written anything on the blog. Takes a minute to blow off the cobwebs. I’ve been concentrating more on writing long-form things. Such as creating The Appalachian Terror Trail and working on that short story anthology. And just last week I finished the rewrite of Blood Roses and Honeysuckles, which was an incredible relief, let me tell you. I was afraid I would never be able to say “The End.” Of course now I’ll be going back and working on editing, editing editing…



Tonight, I wanted to start a possible series, you’ll have to tell me if you’d want to do that. This is all about writing a short story with me. Not everyone enjoys writing  a short story, but in my opinion, it’s a great way to stretch your writing muscles. You have a very confined space to tell the tale. There’s not a lot of wiggle room. It’s an interesting challenge and a lot of fun if you give yourself that freedom.

We do a very bare boned start here.  We talked about it in a very general way to give you as much wiggle room as you want. I didn’t want this to be restrictive. I also didn’t give any specifications to genre and most plot points. Here’s the list of things we parceled out that you’d use to write the short story. Shoutout to Angela for helping me to figure it out!

Main character description:

  • Female,
  • teenager (possibly 16-17)
  • She’s more of a country girl than a city slicker.
  • Sassy, Independent, Likes to control things
  • Birthday: Aug. 15th


  • Male
  • Teenager
  • Sensitive, Holds a Grudge, Petty
  • He tries to paint her as the town villain.

They’ve had a rivalry since childhood.

Setting: Town’s biggest party

Theme: Anti-Valentine’s Day. To read the #writestuff event with more info, check it out here.

Conflict: Something will happen between them.

Genre: Open

Like I said, a very loosely sketched out story base. This is more of an exercise to see what we can do with some of the same information and how different it can be. And here’s the video if you’d like to check it out. In it, I discuss what #writestuff it, why reading instructions for anthologies are important, and more. (Also, ignore the bra strap. I love this top, but it’s unruly and makes moves on me.):


Thanks so much for watching, let me know in the comments if you want to take up the challenge!

Aloha y’all! 

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